Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quiet revolution against collecting societies

In the Netherlands a quiet revolution is going on against collecting societies. Consumers pay a surcharge of 14 eurocents for a CD and 40 eurocents for a DVD when buying blank media as they can copy music, shows and movies on the mdia. But consumers are getting tired of these undefined charges. Consumers do not get any good explanation about the height and the way the money is spent. They do not understand why they have to pay a surcharge for a blank medium and an implicit charge to download a a tune. Besides the distribution of the collected money is a very rough mechanism. When a media carrier has been bought and the surcharge collected, the collecting foundation starts looking for composers, artists and producers

Dutch publications like de Volkskrant and Emerce claim that the Dutch collecting society for home copies (Stichting Thuiskopie) has too much money in its coffers. In 2006 only 23 million was handed over to creatives. Now the society has no less than 57 million euro left. This collecting society is charging manufacturers of blank media at source as the media can be used to make copies of articles, music and shows. The minister of Justice has now stipulated that the Foundation will have to return this money to the manufacturers and importers of the media carriers.

Last year an investigation was started as there were complaints about financial justification and the distribution of the money among the beneficiaries. No less than 57 million euro had been built up for beneficiaries who could not be traced or did not exist any longer. The minister thinks that the money should be returned to manufacturers and importers of blank media. But the IRDA (International Rights Distribution Agency), an organisation representing creatives such as composers, musicians and producers, disagrees with the minister and wants the collecting society to search harder. It in facts accuses the collecting society of unwillingness to search for beneficiaries. Three quarters of the money can be transferred to collecting societies abroad and the Dutch beneficiaries can easily be found, says a spokesperson for IRDA.

The collecting society Thuiskopie reacted like stung by a bee. A spokesperson said that the collecting society likes to have paid the money to beneficiaries and not to the manufacturers and importers of blank media.

The news about the surplus of money does not help the collecting society Thuiskopie. Last year it tried to introduce a levy on Mp3 players, but the justice minister postponed the introduction. But it neither helps the other collecting societies. Especially SME companies are complaining about the charges levied without a proper explanation, proper distribution channels and justification. Companies complain about about paying charges for having radios playing during and copying articles. And not only the companies complain, but also authors. In many cases the publisher keeps the entire repartition, while he is supposed to share the amount with the author using the excuse that the share is incorporated in the author's fee.

Blog Posting Number: 903


No comments: